So many things about this training cycle were different, and even more things about this half marathon were different than any of my previous halfs. I ended up staying at a friend’s house about 35 minutes from Carmel last night, and didn’t even start getting my stuff ready until about 10:30 last night (I also didn’t get my fuel until I got to the expo- talk about waiting until the last minute!). I accidently slept through my first alarm at 4:50, but it must have started to wake me up, because my 5 I was wide awake! I got ready, ate (10 ounces OJ, 1 Luna Bar, 1 banana), and head to Carmel. I parked in a lot about 15 minutes from the start line, and headed to the area to gear check, warm up, and then waited in line for the port-a-potties (another half marathon first! Normally I stay in a hotel close to the race line so this isn’t necessary). OK- now onto the race itself!
As I lined up in my corral, I decided very spur of the moment to try running with a pace group. The pacer for the 2:30 time said she was going to do a run:walk pattern, which is what I do, although she was planning to do 2:1 instead of 3:1. Again, spur of the moment, I decided to just go with it and if I didn’t like it, I’d do my own thing.
The gun went off and I crossed the start line within a few minutes (the beauty of a small race). Within the first half of a mile I started talking to another runner in the pace group named Melissa. We ended up running next to each other and talking the entire 13 miles. It was her first half marathon and she rocked it! The first few miles flew by. It was about 47 degrees at the start, but once the sun came out it started to get warm pretty quickly. By mile 4 I was definitely warming up. The pace group was fun, and from time to time the pace leader would shout something out to help keep us going. There were water and powerade stations almost every mile (the powerade was another first! I’ve only had gatorade in training/races so I had hoped that powerade would do fine in my system while running).
I’m not sure if it was because I had a pacer telling me when to run/walk, or if it was the conversation, or the lack of crowds cheering on the side, but the miles really blur together. Normally in races I can break it down by mile, but this race I really can’t. It was a little disappointing at how few people were out cheering. A few people were looking out their house windows or sitting in their cars and waving, but it’s nothing like the crowds of people at the other half marathons I’ve run.
I took a salt packet about 25 minutes before the race, 3 margarita shot bloks at mile 3.5 and 3 margarita shot bloks at mile 7.5. I usually eat another shot blok or two around mile 9 or 10, but I guess I just forgot?
Starting at mile 3 we started to climb little hills. I really don’t remember at what miles the biggest of the hills were, but I remember them being there. I had worried a bit about the hills before the race, but people had made comments about it being flat so I tried to put those worries aside. Well- I train on almost completely flat roads, so to me, this course had HILLS (of course if you train on a really hilly route, they would likely seem like very little hills to you- all about what you’re used to). Our pace group walked up a few of the bigger ones which was helpful because there’s no way I could’ve run up all of them. I know I lost time on the hills, and I wouldn’t have lost as much time if it had been completely flat (like the monumental course). So the hills- I got a little fussy with them, and Melissa and I tried to make jokes about it (we may have yelled “liar” multiple times at all the people who said “oh, there aren’t hills on the course”). Running these hills was yet another new experience.
Maybe around mile 9 we hit a trail which helped to break things up a bit. There was shade, which was definitely pretty nice at this point. There were other people out on their normal Saturday morning runs, so it was sort of weird to race next to others who weren’t racing. We were only on it for maybe a mile before popping back out on the main road.
During both of my half marathons in 2013 (The Indy Mini and the Monumental), I struggled pretty badly with leg cramps (I was even stuck in the middle of the road unable to take a step during the monumental!), so i was a little worried about how this race would turn out. I started to feel that all too familiar heavy foot and calf around mile 10.5, and I got worried. Luckily nothing came of it, and I never once had to stop to stretch anything out (which is unheard of during my half marathon races)- I was lucky, and Melissa was so encouraging.
Another weird thing: for every other half I’ve taken off all my rings because my fingers swell, but I totally forgot this morning. By mile 7 I couldn’t move my ring up and down or twirl it around my finger at all because of how swollen it is. By mile 11 my finger was swelling up and around the sides of all my rings; pleasant, right? Another abnormal piece to this race…
From mile 11 on we picked up the pace, and each of our mile times was under 11 minutes, and I could feel it. Honestly, if I wasn’t running with a pace group, or maybe specifically with Melissa, I really would have likely not pushed myself as hard as I did, so I’m glad I had that throughout the race, and especially at the end! I crossed the line in 2:32:17. My PR is 2:31:48, so I was SO close. This is what my runkeeper said:
I’m a little disappointed that I was so close to setting a new PR (30 seconds faster and I would’ve had a new PR), but I’m really pleased with this race for a few reasons. I ran this race faster than either of my races in 2013, and I was able to control my cramps, which I couldn’t do in 2013! The courses I’ve run before have been almost pancake flat, so for me to run only 30 seconds slower on a hilly course meant that I really ran pretty well. I really do think if the course had been flat I would’ve PR’d by a few minutes. Neither here nor there though.
Overall this race was pretty great. I plan to write a post about my thoughts on how the things I did differently this training cycle impacted my race, along with my thoughts on Carmel vs. Indy Mini & Monumental.
Sorry this post is all over the place. I think this recap feels a lot like my race- no defined boundaries and a bit blurry. I ended the race and within 10 minutes had already texted my family that I needed to find another half to run asap. I love running. At the end of the day, I’m really happy with my race.
And with that, Half Marathon #5 is in the books, and another training cycle has come to an end.
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